Notes Baird Gets Wedding Gift

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Briny Baird found out Monday morning that he dropped to No. 65 in the World Ranking, one spot away from getting into the Match Play Championship.
 
Thanks to a wedding in Hawaii, he's in the $7 million tournament.
 
Kirk Triplett has decided not to play at La Costa because his best friend is getting married, his agent said Tuesday.
 
If no one else withdraws, Baird would draw Tiger Woods in the first round.
 
Triplett has never made it past the second round of the Accenture Match Play Championship, although his agent said he never considered showing up to get guaranteed money.
 
''That wouldn't be fair to the rest of the field,'' Ron Graham said.
 
El Paso vs. Hazeltine
 
The relationship between Rich Beem and Hazeltine National Golf Club did not end when he held off Tiger Woods to win the PGA Championship.
 
Hazeltine gave Beem an honorary membership -- and got a friendly rival in return.
 
The PGA champion was simply beaming after his El Paso Country Club hammered Hazeltine two weeks ago in what has become a grudge match.
 
''The bragging rights are only going to get bigger,'' Beem said.
 
It started last summer, when Hazeltine wanted to give Beem an honorary membership at the club outside Minneapolis. Beem brought a group of members from his home club, and they wound up playing a friendly match. Hazeltine won big, although Beem chose not to get into details.
 
''The weather was horrible,'' he said.
 
''We had a good time, if you can have a good time getting your (behind) kicked,'' added El Paso member Greg Johns.
 
El Paso wanted a rematch, and it went to great lengths to secure homefield advantage.
 
Hazeltine is under 2 feet of snow this time of the year, and its members are in the middle of golf hibernation. El Paso invited the 11-man squad to west Texas the first weekend in February.
 
''We picked a time that would be advantageous to us -- their winter, when they haven't picked up a club,'' Johns said. ''We don't miss many days because of the weather. I think we engineered it very well.''
 
It wasn't just the dates.
 
Johns said one Hazeltine member had to pull out three days before the rematch with a wrist injury. His spot was taken by El Paso's general manager, who used to belong at Hazeltine.
 
''He plays only twice a year, so we immediately thought he should fill in,'' Johns said.
 
Playing a points-based Nassau -- one point for the front nine, one for the back and one for the 18 holes -- El Paso squeaked by with a 30-6 victory.
 
''These guys were fun,'' Johns said. ''They were gracious winners and sore losers. And that's the way it should be.''
 
Throwing in the Towel
 
Laura Davies beat only one player in the ANZ Championship, and while she said that was probably her last time competing against the men, she had no regrets.
 
''I'd rather have had a go and not made the cut and finished poorly than just sit back and turn the invitation down, because I would always have been wondering,'' she said. ''Now I know.''
 
Now?
 
When she was at the top of her game, Davies played a four-day exhibition in Asia against eight men and finished last, 39 strokes behind Vijay Singh. She played the Korean Open last fall and missed the cut by four shots.
 
Next in Line
 
Another 14-year-old girl will be teeing it up against the men, this time in South Africa.
 
Ashleigh Simon, the top female amateur in South Africa, has been invited to play this week in the Tour Championship at Leopard Creek.
 
Simon, a member of Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club, started playing when she was 6 and played in her first tournament at 11. She already has won six titles, including the KwaZulu Natal Championships.
 
Club Competition
 
Some used to joke that the Presidents Cup was between the United States and an International team that lives in Orlando, Fla.
 
The flip side of that is the Tavistock Cup, competition between two Orlando clubs whose rosters are loaded with players from all over the world.
 
The Tavistock Cup is an exhibition March 29-30 between Lake Nona Golf and Country Club and Isleworth County Club, where several professionals live.
 
Ernie Els is captain of an eight-member team at Lake Nona with no Americans. It includes three South Africans (Els, Retief Goosen, Trevor Immelman), three Englishmen (Nick Faldo, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose), a Spaniard (Sergio Garcia) and a Swede (Annika Sorenstam).
 
Mark O'Meara leads the Isleworth team, minus Tiger Woods, who would rather get ready for The Masters that week. It also includes Americans in Scott Hoch, Lee Janzen and Charles Howell III, along with Aussies Robert Allenby and Stuart Appleby and Darren Clarke, a newcomer from Northern Ireland.
 
Each player on the winning team gets $100,000, while a meager $50,000 goes to the losing team players. There also will be $100,000 for the lowest score of the second day.
 
Divots
 
Annika Sorenstam keeps saying she won't play on the PGA Tour again, although that hasn't kept the Chrysler Classic of Tucson from trying. Tournament officials have called her agent three times offering her a spot in the field. ... For the first time since the World Ranking began in 1986, no European is among the top 10. ... Among early trends on the PGA Tour, three of the first six tournaments have been decided in playoffs. Also, Ernie Els, at the Sony Open, is the only winner this year who did not have at least a share of the lead going into the final round.
 
Stat of the Week
 
Phil Mickelson has started the season with four straight finishes in the top 10, the first time he has done that in his 12-year PGA Tour career.
 
Final Word
 
'I think I can play that good again.''
-- Tiger Woods, who won 23 of 59 times during a three-year stretch on the PGA Tour.
 
Final Word, part II
 
'You better. I'm building two race cars.''
-- Steve Williams, who races cars in New Zealand when he's not on the bag for Woods.
 
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